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Photo: Doug Mills/The New York Times/Pool via Getty Images

President Trump used last night's State of the Union address to lay out themes, policies and symbols for his 2020 re-election race, winning over no Democrats in the chamber but giving new hope to supporters who were turning pessimistic. He softened some edges for his largest audience of the year, but made it clear that he's going to try to re-run many of his 2016 plays in 2020.

A notable new twist that we'll hear a lot more about on the campaign trail: "Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country."

  • Jason Miller, a top official in Trump's 2016 campaign, told me the president "elevated the wedge issue of 'socialism' in a way nobody else could."
  • Republicans love the freeze frame of Democrats sitting emotionlessly when Trump railed against late-term abortions. And loved even more the endorsement-by-sitting-and-silence when he hammered socialism. 
  • A veteran of the last campaign told me Trump is "trying to frame 2020 as a another big, directional election ... betting that [his] people are going to actually like the direction the country is going."

Trump mixed a hard line on immigration with applause lines on D-Day and criminal justice reform. The WashPost's Dan Balz called it "two speeches in one."

  • The first half, giving Trump-the-showman a warm response in the chamber, included new pushes for nationwide paid family leave and lower drug prices, funding for research into childhood cancer, and a pledge to "defeat AIDS."
  • The second half gave Trump-the-campaigner a 2020 battle plan — calling for a ban on late-term abortion, touting his talks with North Korea and, of course, promising a wall: "I will get it built."

Be smart ... One of the president's most loyal D.C. supporters texted me about the presidents effort to cloak hard-nosed policies in softer rhetoric:

  • "[T]he Trump we saw tonight ain't the real Trump — and he's not capable of pretending to be someone else for 2 years."

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
Updated 4 mins ago - Economy & Business

How central banks can save the world

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The trillion-dollar gap between actual GDP and potential GDP is a gap made up of misery, unemployment, and unfulfilled promise. It's also a gap that can be eradicated — if central banks embrace unconventional monetary policy.

  • That's the message from Eric Lonergan and Megan Greene, two economists who reject the idea that central banks have hit a "lower bound" on interest rates. In fact, they reject the idea that "interest rates" are a singular thing at all, and they fullthroatedly reject the idea — most recently put forward by New York Fed president Bill Dudley — that the Fed is "out of firepower."

Why it matters: If Lonergan and Greene are right, then central banks have effectively unlimited ammunition in their fight to increase inflation and employment. They are limited only by political will.

Updated 23 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Large coronavirus outbreaks leading to high death rates — Coronavirus cases are at an all-time high ahead of Election Day — Fauci says U.S. may not return to normal until 2022
  2. Politics: Top HHS spokesperson pitched coronavirus ad campaign as "helping the president" — Space Force's No. 2 general tests positive for coronavirus
  3. World: Taiwan reaches a record 200 days with no local coronavirus cases — Europe faces "stronger and deadlier" wave France imposes lockdown Germany to close bars and restaurants for a month.
  4. Sports: Boston Marathon delayed MLB to investigate Dodgers player who joined celebration after positive COVID test.
Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
3 hours ago - Economy & Business

Leon Black says he "made a terrible mistake" doing business with Jeffrey Epstein

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Rick Friedman/Corbis/Getty Images

Apollo Global Management CEO Leon Black on Thursday said during an earnings call that he made a "terrible mistake" by employing Jeffrey Epstein to work on personal financial and philanthropic services.

Why it matters: Apollo is one of the world's largest private equity firms, and already has lost at least one major client over Black's involvement with Epstein.